Has social media influenced the performance of referral programs

Social media has provided a mechanism for consumers to essentially “vote” for a brand. Historically marketers have found referral programs a ROI challenge. High involvement categories and brands with major league affinity are immune to the challenges lower involvement categories face.

This article recaps a successful referral-like program in a low involvement category.  FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), an alternative electricity supplier to the incumbent utility, had tremendous success with friends and family offers for large businesses. FES wanted to translate that success down-market and develop a turnkey campaign targeting small and medium-sized businesses.

The program had an interesting twist. Existing business customers were targeted with an exclusive pricing discount for the business’ employees (e.g. consumer accounts).  Extending a discounted offer to business’ employees built goodwill with customers. Relationship building was one of the key success factors, but the program also generated significant new residential customers. Discounts served as an employee benefit for businesses, while both the company and the employees saved money on electric generation.

The communications created a compelling reason for businesses to participate in the program and encourage their employees to participate.

Additionally, the program design accounted for:

  • Encouraging employees to enroll and pass on the savings to friends and family members
  • Creating turnkey online and offline materials for companies to customize their own campaigns

How the program works

fes_ff_lp

Prospective companies were sent an email that drove to a landing page. The landing page provided information on the program and steps for employers to participate.

The landing page also hosted downloadable materials that businesses can pass onto their employees.

fes_ff_emailEmployee benefit administrators were also provided with email templates to send employees to drive participation.

Program was successful 

15% of targeted companies clicked through to participate in the Friends and Family Program.

Sheera Eby oversaw the agency team that developed the strategy and program design as well as handled all the program implementation.

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